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Tiburon Tour: Ring Mountain and the Tiburon Peninsula

October 16, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Ring Mountain by Jennifer English

This route takes you through Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve (part of the Marin County Open Space District) and adjacent Tiburon open space for unique views of Angel Island, San Francisco, and the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. After a hike up and down Ring Mountain, the route flattens out and travels along the Tiburon bicycle/pedestrian path past Blackie’s Pasture and Richardson Bay Park to its end point at the Tiburon ferry terminal. Along the route, you will also have a chance to sample a couple of the stairways in Tiburon’s city path system.

Places visited: Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve, Tiburon bicycle-pedestrian path, Tiburon town paths
Approximate Length: 6.75 miles (8 miles total with optional side trip)
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours (4-5 hours with optional side trip)
Map: Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve
Terrain: Uphill climb on road and trail to Ring Mountain; flat, paved route along the Tiburon Peninsula.
Transit schedule: Golden Gate Transit Route 10, Blue & Gold Fleet Tiburon ferry
Start point: Golden Gate Transit stop at Strawberry Village (Reed and Belvedere)
End point: Tiburon Ferry Terminal
Getting to the starting point:

  • From San Francisco, take Golden Gate Transit Route 10 bus from Mission Street and 1st Street (stop is right in front of the Walgreens on Mission). You can also pick up Route 10 at different points along its route along Mission, up Van Ness, and west on Lombard to the Golden Gate Bridge. Check the current San Francisco System map to see if there is a stop closer to you. Take the Route 10 bus to its end point at Strawberry Village.
  • From  the Peninsula and South Bay, take Caltrain to the final San Francisco stop. Walk on 3rd Street towards Market, turn right on Mission, to the Golden Gate Transit stop at Mission and 1st. Or, from BART, take a San Francisco BART train to Montgomery Street station. Exit the station, walk Market Street towards the water/ferry building, turn right on 1st Street, and walk one block to the corner of Mission and 1st. Take the Golden Gate Transit Route 10 bus from here (stop is right in front of the Walgreens on Mission) to its end point at Strawberry Village.
  • From the East Bay, take a San Francisco BART train to Embarcadero station. Walk on Market Street away from the water/ferry building to 1st Street, turn left on 1st Street and walk one block to the corner of Mission and 1st. Take the Golden Gate Transit Route 10 bus from here (the stop is right in front of the Walgreens on Mission) to its end point at Strawberry Village.
  • From the North Bay: Coming from Sausalito and Marin City, take Golden Gate Transit Route 10 north to its end point in Strawberry Village (Reed and Belvedere). From San Rafael and Mill Valley, take Golden Gate Transit Route 17 to the Strawberry Village stop. From downtown Tiburon, take Golden Gate Transit Route 19 to Strawberry Village. From San Anselmo, Ross, Kentfield, and Larkspur, take Golden Gate Transit Route 22 south to Strawberry Village.


  • In hot weather, get an early start for this hike. Much of Ring Mountain is open and exposed; the second part of the hike along the Tiburon Peninsula is shadier and cooler.
  • This hike, which starts at a Golden Gate Transit stop and ends at the Tiburon Ferry, allows you to hike one way without back-tracking on the same route. It is also less expensive than taking the Tiburon Ferry in both directions.
  • The start point for this hike is at Strawberry Village, which provides the opportunity for getting food before starting the hike. The options here (casual/to-go restaurants and a Safeway) are less expensive than the tourist-oriented area of Tiburon at the end of the hike. Particularly if you are on a budget, I recommend eating here or taking some food to go for the hike. Other food options (small grocery, deli, etc.) can be found along Tiburon Blvd. after you emerge from the trail and begin walking along street to the end point of the hike. Snacks and beverages are available aboard the ferry.
  • The optional side trip is scenic and not very long, but you head downhill a ways first and then have to climb back up again to fire road. If it is a hot day or you are tired, save this side trip for another day.
  • If you have the time and energy at the end of the hike, you can wander near the ferry and see a number of historical buildings. Download the Tiburon Walking Tour map ahead of time to take on this trip. On the other hand you may just wish to relax at the park near the ferry landing.
  • The Tiburon ferry ride is longer on the weekends than during the weekend commute. Discount coupon booklets cannot be used on the weekend. See the end of the route directions for instructions on getting back to San Francisco, the East Bay, and the Peninsula/South Bay from the ferry.


  • From the Golden Gate Transit bus stop, which is on Reed Blvd. just before Belvedere, make a left on Belvedere Dr. You will be heading away from the freeway.
  • Pass S. Knoll Road and Bayview Terrace on your left.
  • Carefully cross Ricardo Road and pass Strawberry Park. Watch for traffic and cars pulling in and out of parking spaces at this crossing and around this busy recreation area.
  • At the next intersection, Strawberry Drive, make a left.
  • Immediately after turning left, cross busy Tiburon Blvd., using the crosswalks, and start walking up Bay Vista Dr.
  • Follow Bay Vista Drive as it curves past Bay Vista Court on your left and Rancho Drive, Barn Road, and Cypress Hollow Drive on your right. Enjoy the views, but stay to the right shoulder and watch for traffic along the way.
  • Turn right at Sky Road.
  • When Sky Road ends at a small roundabout, look for the stairs ahead of you. Take the stairs, which are market with a “public trail” sign.
  • Continue on Sky Road when the stairs end.
  • In a short distance, you reach another roundabout.  Turn left here, which is Via Los Altos.
  • In another short distance, at the T, take a left.
  • Look for the stairs on your right, marked as leading to Tiburon Ridge. Start ascending the stairs to the trail.
  • Once you are up the stairs and past a house on your right, turn right at the trail juncture.
  • Continue to stay right as you pass two other trail junctures.
  • Pass through a gate that indicates you are entering Ring Mountain.
  • Stay right, passing a fire road that leads out to the neighborhood.
  • Continue on the trail, heading closer to a water tank.
  • At the fork, turn right (left goes to the water tank).
  • Pass the Phyllis Ellman Trail and Loop trails on your left or take the optional side trip.

Side trip to Phyllis Ellman/Loop Trail:

  • Turn left on the Phyllis Ellman Trail. Head down the trail, where you will have views of the Bay and the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
  • At a juncture, a sign suggests taking the loop to the left. During wet weather, this may be advisable, but the shorter route is to continue straight ahead on the trail. (If you have taken the loop to the left, it will meet up again with the other trail in a short distance.)
  • Continue on the main trail, ignoring the unofficial trails that cut across the gulch to the loop trail.
  • Continue on the trail as it comes very close to a neighborhood street.
  • At the signed juncture, take the Loop Trail to continue back up the way you came (the other direction heads down to the roadside parking area below).
  • Make your way back up, again ignoring informal trails that are shortcuts across the gulch to the other trail. Much of the trail is exposed, but you do pass through a brief shady section with stairs.
  • Continue straight past a small hill on your left (or go up the hill if you wish), to meet up again up again with the main fire road.
    Turn left at the fire road to continue on the route.

End optional side trip


  • Stay right at the next fork (left goes down to Taylor Road).
  • At the water tank, you can go straight for the very short trip to Ring Mountain’s high point.
  • When done here, come back down and turn left at the fire road.
  • Continue straight, passing the water tank on your left.
  • Shortly you will pass some large trees on your right, which make a nice resting point on a warm day.
  • Shortly past the trees, you come to a sign at the border of Ring Mountain and Tiburon Open Space. Turn right at this fork and continue heading down.
  • Head left at the fork, as you get closer to the neighborhood. (If you continue straight here, you will also get down to the road. Although there are no signs here, you pop out along someone’s driveway for a very short distance, so better to stay left to avoid walking on private property.)
  • As the trail ends, turn right onto Indian Rock Court.
  • Very shortly, turn left at Reed Ranch Road.
  • In the next block, look carefully on your left for a path leading to stairs. The path, which is unsigned at the time of this writing, is just over halfway along the block. If you have reached North Terrace Street, you have gone too far.
  • Take the stairs all the way down to the street below, which is Jefferson Drive.
  • Head straight on Jefferson, passing Irving Court and Washington Court on your right.
  • At the T intersection with Tiburon Blvd., turn left and head towards the crosswalk.
  • Cross the street and head onto the trail to Blackie’s Pasture.
  • Depending on your preference and whether or not an event is happening at Blackie’s pasture, you can take the trail to the right or left through the pasture. Both meet up again with the bike and pedestrian path.
  • Shortly you come to Richardson Bay Park, with a large grassy field. You can stay on the bike/pedestrian path for the shortest route, but the slightly longer shoreline route to the right is more scenic and quieter for pedestrians.
  • If you have chosen the shoreline route along Richardson Bay Park, the path eventually curves to the left and meets up with the main bike/pedestrian path. Turn right to continue to the route.
  • Continue on the path as it eventually closely parallels Tiburon Blvd.
  • Cross San Rafael Ave., and continue on the path as it parallels Tiburon Blvd.
  • When the path ends, continue south on Tiburon Blvd. sidewalk.
  • When you have almost reached the waterfront, make a right on Main Street.
  • Look for the signs to the ferry on your left, and head through the shopping area to the ferry.
  • The ferry back to San Francisco will be a bit to your left, past the Angel Island Ferry. You can walk right up to the ferry waiting area, or choose to wait in the grassy linear park just beyond the ferry. Congratulations, you made it!


Getting back from the Tiburon Ferry:

For San Francisco and points south and east:

  • Take the Blue & Gold Fleet ferry to San Francisco. This ferry stops at Pier 41 and the Embarcadero. If you happen to get a very early start for this hike and don’t make many stops along the way or at the end, you may be able to catch one of the earlier ferries that makes a stop at the Ferry Building. Otherwise, continue reading for directions from Pier 41.
  • It is possible to catch a Muni F trolley from here, but it is often faster and easier (especially during tourist season when the trolley is crowded) to walk back along the Embarcadero to Market Street. This is also a good chance to stretch your legs again after the ferry ride.
  • Turn right at Market Street and walk two blocks to the Embarcadero BART/Muni station to take transit to the East Bay (BART), Peninsula (BART or BART to Caltrain), and to Muni Metro to various points in San Francisco.
  • If you would like to continue on directly to the Caltrain station, keep walking on the Embarcadero past Market Street. The Embarcadero curves right and  becomes King Street. Take King Street to the Caltrain station at 4th Street.

From Marin residents:

  • Take Golden Gate Transit Route 19 back up the Tiburon Peninsula (for destinations elsewhere in Tiburon) and to Strawberry Village for all other points. At Strawberry Village, transfer to whichever route you took to the starting point. If your destination is Marin City, you can stay on the Route 19 to its end point at Donahue and Terners.
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